Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fuel Price: 60% more

According to recent news in, the Indonesian Government will raise the fuel price up to 60%. It is due to the government's plan to cut subsidies that they think better to be allocated to help the need of poor people like health and education costs. The soaring of oil prices in world market is also the reason of this unpopular decision.
Indonesia at the crossroad: if fuel subsidies is not cut then the state budget will be heavily burdened when oil prices' fluctuation reaches some of its highest peaks. The uncertainty of Middle East politics would be of course a great influence, plus recent big hurricane which also damaged some oil facilities in America's off-shore. The oil prices in Indonesia is extremely low in South East Asia, approximately 50% of that in Malaysia, for example. Oil smuggling is found to be difficult to fight because you can get up to 100% profit if you succeed to sell Indonesian oil outside. It happens everywhere, from western borders with Singapore and Malaysia to eastern borders with East Timor and Papua New Guinea. In Kompas newspaper it is said that the state loss because of fuel smuggling could reach approximately Rp. 56 trillion, or US$5.6 billion per year. This is because actual oil price in Indonesia in 2003 was even under production costs that should be heavily subsidized.
But on the other hand, raising fuel price could cause also raising price of commodities, up to 40%. The reason what is repeatedly argued is that higher fuel price will raise also production costs, distribution costs, also retail costs to consuments. It will be a big problem for poor people. Therefore VP Jusuf Kalla said that the first priority should be to complete compensastion of fuel price raising in March 2005 to the poor people. It is harder than what is said because government databases in district levels are rather bad. It has no relation with e.g. data about their work. Indonesians usually only asked to write down their status in the ID card but a complete database about where they work, how much they earn, how much tax they pay, do they have pension funds, health insurance, etc seem to be blank for the official. For ID card itself you have two ways to do it: normal, that means you should wait for a week. and "fast way", you can have it less than 3 days with some extra (illegal) money.
It is sad to be true. Should all bureacracy system be heavily reformed first and the costs to to do that will be burdened to budget reallocation from oil subsidies? About Rp. 14 trillion or US$ 1.4 billion per year should be enough to terminate inefficient bureaucrats, building up a modern database. Modern database doesn't always mean sophisticated computer system database but a good archiving which needs a high discipline should be built, and of course, an anti-corruption system.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

90 nm and beyond

This time I want to discuss something technological.
If you are aware enough at recent computers' processor development, you'll see that now the manufacturers sell also the dimension of their transistors in their chips. Intel or AMD, for example, boast their ability to build chip consists of 90-nm transistors or at least 130-nm transistors. What does it mean?
The smaller transistor makes you to put more transistors in the same area. More transistors can be designed into more functionalities. More functionalites enhance complexity. You can have more applications with more features. In one version of Intel Pentium 4, there are at least 55 millions transistors inside. Just imagine!
Smaller transistors need also lower (operational) power per transistor for the same performance. But the problem is, as mentioned above more and more transistors are packed in the same - or smaller - area. These will produce more heat, and according to one estimation, if nothing is done then heat per area in a processor would be as high as that of rocket's nozzle. The other effect is: when you have smaller channel of CMOS transistors, you have also more leakage current - and that means also leakage power in stand-by. If the transistor is not active, you will have leakage and this would be serious challenge to future development of processor. Theere are some ways to control leakage power: to use some high-threshold transistors in non-critical path, to use bias voltage in the "body", using "sleep-mode" when the circuit in stand-by, or putting insulator between substrate and transistors called Silicon on insulator (SOI). There are, of course - still many ways to explore to overcome this problem.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

War against corruption

In his article, Dr. Nadirsyah Hosen, a prominant Indonesian Muslim scholar, wrote that:

"Corruption is closely linked to the way in which governments conduct their affairs, and, therefore, also to the growth of governments' economic activities."

This should be mostly connected to long discussion how to end corruption in Indonesia. My question should be:

"If Indonesian people really wants to end corruption, then we should be able to look at the 2004 General Election's result. Indeed, could we see this people's will at the House of Representatives?"

Then as my first "postulate": I doubt that the Indonesian people really wants to end rampant nationwide corruption. I myself am an Indonesian, born in Indonesia, grew up in Indonesia, and will be back to Indonesia once my job in Germany finished. I feel what the people think, they want a "just prosperous society". But how to build it, they will answer, "it depends on the government.". Again government should be a "fairy tale godfather"?
I won't deny important role of leadership here. A strong good leadership will build a strong good trust. Be this trust to the government, to the people, and vice versa, this would be a fundamental capital of government-people relationship. But unfortunately, I couldn't see this in Indonesia.
Now we have democracy, even one of the most complicated election in the world. The people should vote three times in 2004: first, the members of House of Representatives and DPD (Provincial Representative Assembly). Second, first round presidential election. Third, second round presidential election, once the first failed to pass only one pair candidate elected by 51% of voters. The issue of clean government was already discussed many times, but, as we could see now, it had small impact. The people doesn't want it as top agenda, as their interests will depend of their own cronies.
Like in other Asian cultures, Indonesians spend most of their times in their big families. Also when unemployment in Indonesia reaches 30 millions this year, the government could say but this is not a crisis, because avary (big) family will take care of its (unemployment) members. That's why, if one of your crony has a good position, his other family members will be at least very proud.
What still missing from this culture is the awareness, that the ability from the big family to support the whole family is very limited. In the Western countries this role is taken by the state with social state concept, whose prerequisite is a clean, strong bureacracy, but in Indonesia the state is still not able to build that.
This is the first challenge to Indonesians, if they realize that cronies woulb be not enough to support all their relatives, so that they should adapt themselves to think a little bit selfish: let the state be trustful enough and the people keep this trust while transforming themselves to an information society.